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Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center

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Substance Abuse and Addiction - Recovery

Recovery from alcohol abuse or dependence means finding a way to stay sober while changing your attitudes and behaviors. You will work to restore relationships with your family and friends and people at your job or school. You will need to find meaning and happiness in a healthy lifestyle that doesn't include alcohol.

Recovery is not a cure. It is an ongoing process. It begins in treatment, but it doesn't end when your treatment ends. There are 10 principles of recovery that can help you reach your goals and learn new things to help yourself. They help you gain self-confidence and respect for yourself. They make clear that you're in charge of your recovery. How far you go is up to you.

To stay sober after treatment, focus on your goals. Find things to do, such as sports or volunteer work. Learn how to say no to alcohol and drugs.

Find support

An important part of recovery is being sure you have support. You can:

  • Develop and use social support and support groups. Support comes in many forms. You can find it in seminars and groups led by professionals, 12-step groups with people who also have drinking problems, and your relationships with family and friends. You can make support groups more helpful by being an active member.
  • Connect with family and friends. They can help you stop drinking and stay sober by encouraging positive steps. For them to do this, you have to be honest with them about your problems and help them by trying.
  • Take part in recovery group activities. You may have used alcohol to make friends or be with a social group. Your counselor or doctor can help you learn skills to make friends without drinking. For example, your counselor may help you find a social skills training class.
  • Find a sponsor, and work with this person. A sponsor is someone who has been in recovery for a long time and helps you stay alcohol-free.

Plan for lapse and relapse

Stopping alcohol use is very hard. It's not unusual to have setbacks, even years later. Very few people succeed the first time they try. Many people who are trying to recover from alcohol addiction will have lapses or relapses along the way.

  • A lapse is the first time you use alcohol again after you have quit or brief episodes of alcohol use at later points.
  • A relapse is not being able to stay sober over time.

It's smart to plan for a lapse or relapse before it happens. Your doctor, family, and friends can help you do this.

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